From May 2020 through August 2021, five “next generation” members of Americana’s founding family participated in a program that introduced them to Americana’s mission, program areas, trustees, and staff. The Next Gen cohort included Jessie Harper, Kyle Harper, Ashley Thomas, Jennifer Thomas, and Nathan Thomas, all of whom are great-grandchildren of Adolph and Ginger Meyer, Americana’s founders.
The program included workshops presented by Americana’s trustees and staff. Workshop topics included the history and mission of the Foundation; trends, challenges, and opportunities in philanthropy; a focus on Americana’s grantees and grant relationships; and the “nuts and bolts” of foundation operations. At the end of the program, the Next Gen cohort participated in a special grants program that enabled them to review concept letters, evaluate applications, and make recommendations for grant awards in Americana’s three program areas (agriculture and natural resources, American heritage, and support for Tollgate Farm in Novi).
The Next Gen recommended three grants under the Next Gen program, all of which were approved by the Board of Trustees:
- For Love of Water (Traverse City, MI): FLOW received a $7,500 grant to develop a communications and outreach plan for engaging young people in understanding environmental threats to the Great Lakes and taking meaningful action to protect them.
- The Henry Ford (Dearborn, MI): The Henry Ford’s $10,000 grant will support the development, creation, and presentation of a new dramatic program to activate the Detroit Central Farmers Market, which is being reconstructed and installed at The Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village. The market will serve as a learning laboratory to share important stories of historical innovations in agriculture and connect them to issues surrounding foodways, sustainability and the environment.
- The I-Collective (Detroit, MI): The I-Collective will use its $5,000 grant to address issues relating to food sovereignty within the Indigenous community in Detroit by increasing access to culturally relevant foods, creating educational materials, and introducing programming geared towards cultivated relationships between the land and one another.
Funding for the Next Gen grants was provided as part of Americana’s memorial gift in honor of Barbara Livy, Adolph and Ginger Meyers’ daughter and the Next Gen’s grandmother, who passed away in 2019.
Americana is grateful to the organizations who participated in the Next Gen grantmaking program and to the members of the Next Gen cohort for their enthusiasm, engagement, and commitment to the Foundation and its mission.